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Meet America’s Only Double Amputee Cop

Men's Health logo Men's Health 4/16/2018 Joshua St. Clair

Matias Ferreira lost both of his legs while serving in the Marine Corps. But that hasn't stopped him from continuing to bring the bad guys to justice.: Meet America’s Only Double Amputee Cop © Cole Wilson/Men's Health Meet America’s Only Double Amputee Cop Matias Ferreira lost both of his legs while serving in the Marine Corps. But that hasn't stopped him from continuing to bring the bad guys to justice.

On Jan. 21, 2011, Marine Lance Corporal Ferreira had just completed a raid on a cold night in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He jumped off a roof and landed on a concealed IED. "I looked down and saw that my [lower] legs were gone," he told MensHealth.com. "I saw a mangled boot. But I had so many buddies who had gotten hurt that it was as if I had already accepted it. I always knew this is what would happen if I stepped on a bomb."

Ferreira was helicoptered to nearby Bagram Airfield and stabilized. He was then flown to Germany and later Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. When he came home, "my mom didn't recognize me. My head was shaved and my skin was covered with black dust. Being wheeled into the hospital, I had to lift my hand to get her attention. She said, 'Honey, you'll be okay.'"

After multiple surgeries to repair a broken pelvis and femur, Ferreira was outfitted with twin prosthetics and began his intensive rehabilitation process. "The Marines have a program of peer mediation, where they send out guys who've been hurt to talk with you," he says. "Josh Wege inspired me. He's another double amputee Marine. Hearing about all the things he still does made me realize I was going to play sports again, I was going to get a job, and I was going to be OK."

On Jan. 7, 2012, Ferreira finished the Disney Half Marathon in 3 hours, 54 minutes. Later that year, he started touring the country with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, which is how he met his future wife. "After a tournament, we went to a bar called Katie's in Smithtown, New York," he recalls. "I was out back making a call, and I saw this dog. I wondered why it was there, and this girl came over. Her name was Tiffany, and she said it was 'yappy hour.' We hit it off. In the hospital, I didn't even know if girls would want to talk to me again." They later became engaged and had a daughter.

Shortly after having his daughter, Ferreira witnessed a traffic accident and saves a baby from a burning car. "I heard a bang. A dump truck collided with a car, and the car was smoking," he says. "I ran up without thinking. A woman was yelling, 'My baby's in the backseat!' I grabbed a flashlight to see inside. The baby was unconscious. My daughter had the same car seat, so I knew where all the buttons were. I pulled the baby out."

The incident inspired him to enroll in Long Island's Suffolk County Police Academy for 29 weeks of intensive training in 2016. "It was like being in college, at the gym, and in 30 different training sessions at once. Rigorous," Ferreira says. "But I graduated top of class. The military set me up for success."

In 2017, Officer Ferreira joined the Suffolk County PD in Babylon, New York, as the only double-amputee cop in the nation. "There's always something to be positive about," he says. "Now I pull up my pant legs and people go, 'Oh my god, that is awesome.' If I lived my life secluded from the world, people would never get to see my perseverance and know they can push through too. The storm always passes."

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